The Big Picture
Over the past few months, there have been talks and discussions as to whether this Indian team is the best the country has ever had.
While comparisons are futile and shouldn't be indulged into, for every era has its own challenges, it is worth taking into account that this Indian team under Kohli have scaled a plethora of unchartered territories.
Here's a look-
#4 First captain to win a Test series in Sri Lanka [2-1 & 3-0 in 2013 & 2015]
Sri Lanka may be going through a tough period in International cricket, but as with all home sides, they have been a tough nut to crack especially when Rangana Herath was at its peak. Australia was whitewashed 3-0 in 2016 while the Proteas have swept aside in 2018 [2-0].
On either side of the Australian and South African whitewash, stood Virat Kohli and his Indian side. No Indian side had ever won a series on Lankan soil in 23 years and the closest they had come was in 2010 when the series was drawn at 1-1.
For Kohli, the series was very crucial as a captain. Six months into his captaincy stint, he was yet to win a Test match. India dominated the first Test at Galle throughout, but a belligerent 169-ball 162 by Dinesh Chandimal and Herath's 7-48 on the final day took the game away from the visitors to claim a 63-run victory.
But, the loss at Galle proved to be a fillip for Team India as the Virat Kohli-led side went on to win five successive Tests thereafter, beating the hosts' 2-1 in 2015 before whitewashing them [3-0], two years later in 2017.
The 2017 tour proved to be pathbreaking for Team India as they extended their dominance in the white-ball formats and claimed a 9-0 victory.
#3 Bilateral ODI series win in Australia, 2019
Okay, this was only the second bilateral ODI series Down Under between these two sides', but given the way, India was shellacked [1-4] in 2016, it required a herculean effort.
And, more so when they had gone 0-1 down in the 3-match series. But, as this Indian side has repeatedly shown, adversity brings out the best in them. Spearheaded by MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli with the bat and Yuzvendra Chahal's 6-42 in the decider at the MCG, the Men in Blue went on to win the second and third ODI by six and seven wickets respectively, to register their first-ever bilateral ODI series win in Australia.
#2 ODI series win in South Africa, 2018
28 Matches. 5 Wins. 21 Losses. A W/L ratio of 0.238. This was India's ODI record in South Africa prior to Virat Kohli-led sides' 5-1 win in the rainbow nation last year.
Winning on South African soil`has always been an arduous task for India irrespective of the format. The Men in Blue have toured the rainbow nation on six occasions prior to the 2018 tour and returned empty-handed every time.
So, when the Virat Kohli-led side visited South Africa at the start of 2018, there were great expectations from the team to end the drought.
The Test series was closely fought but inexplicable team selections and insipid batting display- especially in the fourth innings, paved the way for a 2-1 defeat. But, India cashed-in on the momentum they had built after the win in the last Test at Jo'Burg and carried it successfully to the ODI series.
Skipper Virat Kohli led from the front yet again, scoring 558 runs in six games while the wrist-spinners in Kuldeep and Chahal spun a web around the Proteas batsman to help their side inflict a 5-1 win- India's first ODI series win on South African soil.
#1 First Asian skipper to breach the Aussie barrier, 2018-19
71 years. 31 series. 98 Tests. 292 players, which includes some of the greatest names Asia has ever produced in Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Kumar Sangakkara, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly, Wasim Akram, who tried their hands at winning a Test series Down Under but couldn't.
But, on 7th January 2019, Virat Kohli and his men finally breached the Australian barrier. Prior to the series, the Aussie media had billed the series around Virat Kohli but it was Cheteshwar Pujara who dealt a decisive blow. In a coming of age tour for the Indian No.3, Pujara ground the Australian bowlers into the dust as he played a monumental 1254 balls for his 521 runs across the four Tests to spearhead the Indian batting.
Pujara's hundred in the first innings at the Adelaide Oval was essentially the turning point of the series. With India reeling at 4-40, the Indian No.3 scored a crucial hundred to help his side post a fighting total of 250 in the first innings. India eventually won the game by 31 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
India's penchant for bizarre team selections came back to haunt them at Perth and Australia staged a fightback to square the 4-match series 1-1. But, India learned their lessons pretty quickly going into the Boxing Day Test. Another Pujara hundred was followed by a career-best spell of 6-33 by Jasprit Bumrah, who claimed nine wickets in the game to help India win by 137 runs and take a 2-1 lead in the series.
India extended their dominance in the final Test at the SCG. Pujara scored 192, Pant shellacked the tired Aussie attack with a 159 as the Men in Blue racked up 7-622.
In reply, Kuldeep Yadav claimed 5-99 as the Aussies were forced to follow-on for the first time at home since 1988. But inclement weather meant India had to contend with a 2-1 scoreline as the last two days of the Test were washed out.